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Pa.'s fossil fuel-dependent clean energy hub

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Friday, June 2, 2023
Energy impacts, AG's race, committee votes, private sector, debt deal, loan forgiveness, and caffeinated eyedrops. Enjoy your weekend.

Pennsylvania is eyeing federally-designated hydrogen hub status as it looks to leverage existing natural gas reserves to power a cleaner energy era. 

The Biden Administration wants to promote clean hydrogen, but the definition is unclear, StateImpact reports. Given the Marcellus Shale formations here, Pennsylvania is well positioned for blue hydrogen production, a process that separates hydrogen and carbon atoms in methane and traps the resulting carbon so it doesn't pollute the atmosphere.

But environmentalists say using fossil fuels to make hydrogen won't help cut greenhouse gas emissions at the rate necessary to avoid catastrophic warming, while Cornell University Professor Robert Howarth recently told Pennsylvania lawmakers that carbon capture had a negligible impact.

Read StateImpact's full report: Pennsylvania lawmakers examine climate issues related to proposed hydrogen hub in committee hearing.

THE CONTEXT: Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro is fully supportive of a hydrogen hub in Pennsylvania, and his predecessor, Democrat Tom Wolf, signed a tax credit package into law that included $1 billion in incentives to attract the industry to the commonwealth.

The state House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee hearing covered by StateImpact included testimony from the economic development nonprofit Team Pennsylvania, which is involved in a hydrogen hub bid for the Pittsburgh region, along with partners at Shell and Mitsubishi Power.

In January, the Shapiro administration awarded Team Pennsylvania a contract worth $100,000 to conduct a study on how to incorporate hydrogen technology into Pennsylvania's energy system. In February, the group paid for Shapiro to attend Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona.

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"Younger and younger defendants are picking up handguns and committing senseless shootings."

District Attorney Pier Hess Graf announcing two arrests in a shooting that killed two children and one teenager in Lebanon earlier this week

The inside of a peony at Longwood Gardens, via David G. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on IG, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.

A closeup of the inside of a flower colored pink and orange and green.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.READY TO LAUNCH: Former state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale will run for state attorney general next year. WESA reports: "DePasquale won't have the field to himself: Upwards of a dozen people in both parties have been named as potential candidates for the job, including Allegheny County Republican Scott Brady, the U.S. Attorney from western Pennsylvania during the Trump administration."

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.CAPITOL BRIEFS: Spotlight PA's Stephen Caruso reports bills on paid family leave, automated speed enforcement, patient limits for nurses, and grants to create more grocery stores are slated for committee votes next week in the Democratic-controlled state House. In other news: Two state representatives are trying to lock in a state-run telephonic tax filing system used by the Plain community.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.JOB REPORTS: @justin_sweitzer reports Stan Saylor has joined the government affairs firm One+ Strategies where he'll help clients navigate state appropriations and public policy processes. Saylor was a top budget negotiator in Harrisburg before losing a reelection bid in last year's GOP primary. Elsewhere: Former Corbett administration lawyer Christine Wechsler has a new private sector gig as well.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.DEBT VOTES: The debt ceiling bill passed the U.S. Senate last night and will be signed into law by President Joe Biden. Two Pennsylvania congresspeople voted against it in the U.S. House this week for very different reasons, Patch reports. Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry said spending cuts aren't steep enough, while Democratic U.S. Rep. Summer Lee said new food stamp work requirements are too harsh. 

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.STUDENT LOANS: Both of Pennsylvania's U.S. senators — Democrats John Fetterman and Bob Casey — voted against a bill to overturn President Joe Biden's student debt relief plan, a bill that ultimately won approval in the Democratic-controlled chamber Thursday. Biden said he'll veto the measure, but the Supreme Court is set to rule on the program, which 1.15 million Pennsylvanians applied for.
🏆 PA POP QUIZ: Put your news knowledge to the test with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Debt ceiling dealbreaker, Shapiro's secret schedule, and fire in the sky.

'SEVERE VIOLATOR': The U.S. Department of Labor has found more safety violations at Dollar General stores in Pennsylvania. The company, labeled a "severe violator" by federal authorities, faces $227,000 in additional penalties, totaling more than $21 million nationwide since 2017. 

BREAKING POINT: Philadelphia's Insectarium, site of a famed $50,000 heist in 2018, was smashed up as it closed for good under an eviction order from the sheriff last week. "Every window and every mirror was shattered," an attorney representing the building's mortgage holder told WHYY.

CRASH UPDATE: The pilot of a plane that crashed into a truck on a Pennsylvania Turnpike off-ramp in York County Wednesday has died, the Federal Aviation Administration reports, via WHTM.

WATCH NEXT: If you missed last week's Spotlight PA panel on how Pennsylvania wants to spend more than $1 billion in opioid settlement money and surrounding debates, you can watch the video here.

QUIT COFFEE: Pittsburgh startup Revitalize Energy wants you to put caffeine in your eyes (and WESA reporter An-Li Herring tried it). CEO Kyle Guinness said caffeinated drops can help with digital-era eye fatigue

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